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Banished From The Hero's Party Author and Director

by Kim Morrissy,

In the story of Banished from the Hero's Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside, the protagonist tries to find a new destiny after leaving the hero's party. ANN spoke to the novel's original creator Zappon and the anime's director Makoto Hoshino about the subtle themes and world of this RPG-like fantasy.

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

I think a big appeal of Banished from the Hero's Party is how it shows “another side” to the plot of a fantasy RPG. Are you the kind of gamer who likes to imagine what the NPCs are doing after you leave the town?

Zappon: Yes, that's exactly right. I love imagining how the NPCs live their daily lives. How does the local town's economy function? What kinds of diplomatic relations exist between countries? Playing Dragon Quest III as a child was a big influence in making me appreciate games in that way. It didn't have the AI or complex time schedules of a modern RPG—only a day and night system—but I felt like I could get a sense of how the NPCs lived their lives just from reading their set lines, which change depending on the accessories you obtained from previous towns and whether it is night or day.

Although this novel has “slow life” in the title, it's interesting how it still maintains action and plot-driven elements. How did you decide on the balance?

Zappon: When I come up with the plot for a book-length story, I think of the balance as follows: A slow-life opening half, action in the middle and latter half, and a return to slow life in the end. Also, even in parts that have a lot of action, I don't forget to incorporate the slow-life aspects to indicate the passage of time. The world is full of battles and adventure, but even if a battle awaits the next day, I won't give up on the mundane happiness of today. That's the theme I have in mind when writing the story.

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

“Blessings” play a big role in this story. How did you come up with this element? And how do you think it affects free will?

Zappon: The idea behind Blessings came to me when I was thinking about why the creator figure of an RPG-like world would implement that kind of system. This part gets revealed far later in the novels, so I can't explain it in detail now, but if there were a creator deity that grants people skill trees, then it wouldn't be sufficient to explain the reasoning with just the skill trees. There had to be something that would guide a person's life in accordance with the roles of the skill tree.

That something was the Blessing.

A Blessing doesn't forcefully change an individual's free will. There are the talents bequeathed by the inherent skills of the Blessing; it also triggers feelings of happiness or relief when you fulfill the associated role. Likewise, if you do something that goes against the role, your decision-making will be influenced in the form of subliminal impulses and mental anguish. It might not directly steal away the thoughts that inspire free will… but when you're dealing with a Blessing of the utmost significance, like that of the Hero's, then you could say that in practice it does steal away free will by providing such a strong feeling of impetus that it doesn't leave room for any other option.

Ruti's personality seems rather unusual for a Hero. What was the inspiration behind her character?

Zappon: When I decided on the nature of the Hero's Blessing, I came up with two varieties of Hero characters. The first is Ruti's type: Although she accepts the myriad pressures of a Hero, she doesn't give up on herself and resists sublimation. The reason Ruti appears cold and emotionless is because she does not desire this life.

The other type is shown in volume 3 of the novels, in the form of a Hero who has completely embraced their Blessing. The Hero's emotions are completely under control, and on top of that, they can smile or be angered on behalf of other people. Although they can express their emotions richly, it all takes the form of a Hero who can only live for others, and as a result their heart is completely empty.

I debated with myself over which type to use as the main character when I was coming up with the plot. I thought that the former (Ruti's type) had the potential to be a more appealing character, so from there I came up with the more detailed aspects of her characterization.

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

It seems that “Chased Out of the Hero's Party”-type stories became popular on Shо̄setsuka ni Narо̄ a few years ago. When you first started writing this novel, how popular was this trend?

Zappon: I think I'd best start by explaining the “Chased Out of the Hero's Party”-type story that's so popular on Shо̄setsuka ni Narо̄. In my story, the protagonist who has always contributed to the party gets thrown out. It's slightly different from the genre that starts with the main character experiencing bad luck, such as a story where the protagonist who has been summoned from another world is immediately kicked out because he is the only one who obtained a useless skill.

When I started writing, the “Protagonist experiences an initial unfortunate setback but consistently turns it around from there” genre was already popular on Shо̄setsuka ni Narо̄, and it's an influence on this story as well. I think that the reason why the “Chased Out of the Hero's Party” genre became popular on its heels was because of my story. When this novel reached the top of the rankings, other stories with the similar premise of getting kicked out of the hero's party started being written and attaining the daily no. 1 ranking in terms of reader ratings. From there, more and more stories jumped on the bandwagon, and plenty of “Chased Out of the Hero's Party”-type stories started showing up in the rankings.

After the protagonist gets banished from the party, there are numerous ways the story can progress from there. One of the popular styles is the “revenge” or “zamaa”-type plot. In your novel, the protagonist chooses a peaceful life in the countryside. Is there a reason you decided to take this route instead of the revenge one?

Zappon: I thought of the theme of the story before I started writing it. For this story, I decided that the protagonist should find happiness. Red has lived his entire life thus far for his younger sister. After his role came to an end and he was kicked out, I figured that he would feel emptiness rather than anger.

I set out to write the story of an empty protagonist who finds a peaceful life in the countryside. And by being with someone he loves, I thought he could overcome his setbacks instead of reliving them.

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

Makoto Hoshino: By the way, this is completely off-topic, but I'm amused at how the term “zamaa” is transliterated in English.

What was your first impression of the light novels?

Makoto Hoshino: Though I usually tell people around me as well, but to put it in a single word, it's very “polished.” It unobtrusively sets up foreshadowing, which then thoroughly pays dividends with some small surprises along the way. I felt like you wouldn't find any holes even if you were to scrutinize it from multiple different angles.

The character designs, locations, and clothing and prop designs are quite varied in this anime. When deciding on the “worldview” for the anime, how did you determine the balance between the medieval Europe inspirations and the ahistorical elements?

Makoto Hoshino: It's a little difficult to put into words, but basically I wanted to mix a little bit of fiction into what is largely a realistic world. In this world, there are Blessings and what can undeniably be called Skills. They might be things that you'll often see in games, but I thought that even if there were Skills that would allow people to create factory machines to some degree, like for instance a “Paper Making Skill” or “Minting Skill,” then the culture would probably not develop in the same way as ours. However, if we were to lean too heavily on that, then we would risk drifting away from the fantasy genre, so I kept the changes restricted to minor areas like small objects, clothes, and food.

At the point when they had potions, they could make bottles, but they were probably using a Skill to refine liquids, so I think that there are a lot of people who don't understand the fundamental methods, including the very people making them. Only people who possess the Skill can make things. Because of this, even convenient creations don't spread very far. Red must occasionally make things without relying on a Skill, so in that regard, he has his differences from other people.

Thus, it's a world where, depending on the story, it seems plausible that there could be paper, windows, and draughts in a building… but we decided not to go down that route this time. Well, in truth, the biggest reason behind the slight looseness of the setting is to give the artists a certain degree of freedom for their drawings. (laughs) I want to see Rit in a swimsuit, after all! Hats off to the craftsman with the swimsuit-making skill!

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

I can't help but notice that Rit's chest is bigger in the anime. Did you have any specific orders for the anime character designer Ruriko Watanabe?

Makoto Hoshino: We already had the novel illustrations and the manga adaptation, so when we first did the rough images, we had a meeting discussing them. I took the opportunity to reconfirm the breast shape with the character designer. (Of course, I also confirmed and made requests about other things too, like the legs.) I vaguely recall asking something about whether our designs came out looking a little more heavily endowed, to which I was told, “Nah, I think this size is fine.” So, considering that the designer was cool with it, I gave my approval.

Later on, the clean versions got handed in, and for some reason, the breasts were bigger. They weren't drawn like how they were previously, nor did it happen because of my instruction. When I asked why this was the case, the response was, “I tried making them a teensy bit bigger, as a little experiment.”

“A teensy bit?” I thought, but I gave it the OK nevertheless. They certainly are big.

Speaking of Rit's chest, it's very amusing how episodes 3 and 4 opened similarly. To what extent is this a recurring element in the series?

Makoto Hoshino: Alas, that's it for the rest of the show. That's because the relationship between the two characters gradually changes. It's included as an important part of their emotional journey, as they go from being awkward and hesitant around each other to developing a firm bond. Although it's expressed in that kind of way, I am thinking about it in a relatively serious way (laughs).

©Zappon,Yasumo/KADOKAWA/The Brave Man's Group Partners

The original novels feature detailed explanations about “Blessings,” level systems, and so on. What was your approach to conveying this in the anime?

Makoto Hoshino: Unlike a novel or manga, an anime viewer can't pause reading to think about things, so we had to convey the information succinctly and correctly. However, “Blessings” are an extremely difficult aspect to explain. Because of this, I decided to parcel out the information gradually. For example, in episode 1, a Blessing seems like something similar to the job system in a video game. There are skills. Episode 3 introduces levels: in order to raise them, you have to defeat someone with a Blessing. From there, young Al is used as a concrete example… That's the general flow. By doing this, I think that the viewers will steadily draw closer to the Hero Ruti's secret.

Kanon Takao and Ryōta Suzuki's vocal performances are among the highlights of the anime. What kind of qualities were you looking for during the voice casting?

Makoto Hoshino: For Suzuki, I asked for calmness and a quiet sense of passion. For Takao, I asked for cheerfulness and innocence. However, I also asked them to keep in mind that when they are in battle, their hearts possess the intensity of first-rate adventurers.

Banished from the Hero's Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside is streaming on Funimation

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